My Favorite Nine Albums of 2016

The Hotelier at the Bowery Ballroom in July.
The Hotelier at the Bowery Ballroom in July.

Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Album: I Had a Dream that You Were Mine
Track: In a Blackout

I first saw the Hamilton Leithauser fronted band The Walkmen at the Bowery Ballroom back in 2002 or so. I saw them again at Maxwell’s (a much smaller venue) where they only played for a half hour. I approached the bassist at the bar after and told him it was a great set, but it was a little short. He profusely apologized. I always felt bad about that.

Anyway, Leithauser teamed up with one of the dudes from Vampire Weekend and recorded a gorgeous album. You’ll probably know this track from that Apple ad.

Kyle Morton
Album: What Will Destroy You
Track: The Aftermath or Water Torture or Gestalt

Kyle Morton’s band Typhoon has been around since 2005, culminating with their 2011 masterpiece White Lighter. The band typically has 11 or so members—practically a mini-orchestra.

Morton owes a lot of his lyrics to Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and this continues with his first solo album.

Petite League
Album: Slugger
Track: Surving October

The Syracuse University sports teams play at the Carrier Dome. A few years ago, a bunch of enterprising students, led by Lorenzo Gillis Cook converted their rented student house into a do-it-yourself music venue called the Scarier Dome. Why no one did this when I was a student there in the 90s is beyond me.

Anyway, Cook’s band Petite League is low-fi indie pop band that reminds me of Apples in Stereo, Guided by Voices, and Radiator Hospital.

Album: Guided Meditation
track:I’m with you or Fascination

REM, The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet and countless other bands cite Big Star as a major influence. Philly’s Hurry is firmly entrenched in the Big Star family tree.

The Hotelier
Album: Goodness
Track: Opening Mail for My Grandmother

There’s a fourth wave of emo, and while it isn’t a subgenre I was hardcore about in the past, I’ve always been into a few of the bands in the second wave. My friend Andrew noted, “It was like walking into someone else’s high school reunion”, when we saw them at the Bowery Ballroom over the summer.

This wasn’t a diss, and I really enjoyed seeing the crowd sing every lyric.

Japanese Breakfast
Album: Psychopomp
Track: Heft

Lead vocalist Michelle Zauner used to front the now-defunct Little Big League — a band I adore. But now she fronts Japanese Breakfast. Her voice reminds me a bit of the Sundays.

Album: Cardinal
Track: Size of the Moon

There isn’t too much more I can say about Pinegrove since I interviewed Evan Stephens Hall last year. It’s fun to see a band rise after checking them out at a basement show at Rutgers.

Pity Sex
Album: White Hot Moon
Track: Bonhomie

Lead vocalist and guitarist Brennan Greaves shared lead vocals and guitars with Britty Drake. Unfortunately when I saw them, Drake quit the band. And even more unfortunately, the band has taken an “indefinite hiatus.”

Anyway, picture Dinosaur Jr. with J. Mascis sharing vocals with a Sundays type vocalist and you have Pity Sex.

The Afterglows
Angels in the Sunshine Hotel

Sam Cook-Parrott of Radiator Hospital and Michael Cantor of The Goodbye Party have teamed up to form the Afterglows. Their self-titled album also gives off a Big Star/Teenage Fanclub vibe, but mellower.


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